Attested:  RC Albinumno.

Where:  Somewhere on the Welsh side of the Severn estuary, near Caerleon, possibly at the mouth of the river Usk near Newport, around ST3284.

Name originAlbinumno would not be out of place among Old European river names such as the Albinia in Etruria, presumably based on PIE *albho- ‘white’.  The -numno part resembles Greek νευμενος, from νεομαι ‘to go or come back’ or ‘to flow (of rivers)’.  The ending looks like the PIE noun-forming suffix *mno-, which shows up particularly in Latin deity names and is related to -ment in English, but there is no chalk in this area to justify a meaning close to ‘whiteness’, though there are extensive areas of sand.  The -bi- part might come from the two rivers that merge into one estuary there, the Usk and the Ebbw (Ebwy, formerly Eboth, which might even preserve a memory of Albinumno).

Notes:  In France the common place name Aubigny is usually derived from Albiniacus, thought to derive from personal names such as Albinius, referring to pale hair or complexion.  This analysis rejects a formerly favoured parallel in Latin numen ‘will of the gods’, whose primary meaning was ‘nodding of the head’, in the sense of assenting, not falling asleep, derived from Greek νευμα.  Several Roman-era inscriptions containing oblique cases of a word *nodens commonly (but possibly wrongly) described as a god, not an attribute, have been found slightly up the river Severn at Lydney, on the Roman road from Caerwent to Gloucester.

Standard terms of use: You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.
Last Edited: 12 January 2017